Cosmology VS Cosmetology

Cosmology VS Cosmetology
Cosmology Studies (left) VS Cosmetology Studies (right); left sketch courtesy of TheAstronomyBum under CC0 1.0 and right image courtesy of CAMIller62 under CC BY-SA 3.0

Cosmology subjects (above left image) are often confused with Cosmetology subjects (above right image), and vice versa, as both words sound similar. The former is a study of the Universe, and the latter is a study of cosmetics. As seen here, both vocabulary words are different.

Dr. MMM of AstroPicionary has taught astronomy to 10,000+ students over 15+ years at a USA Carnegie Level R1 University. The author continues to teach more than 10 classes of astronomy and physics each year at different colleges and universities. She also authors textbooks in astronomy that are in use worldwide. Here, Dr. MMM discusses a vocabulary word that is often confused by several university students that haven taking her general education astronomy course.


Cosmologist is a person who studies cosmology. A cosmetologist is a person who studies cosmetology. The word cosmologist sounds like the word cosmetologist. The professions are different.

We professors expect some students to come into a course calling the course by a different name: Cosmology is Cosmetology and Astronomy is Astrology. We expect some students to come into a course calling the professor by a different career title: The professor is a cosmologist or an astrologer. At the beginning of a semester’s course, I expect one or more students to confuse me, an astronomer/astrophysicist, with a cosmetologist or an astrologist. At course end, I do not expect a thank you for a wonderful Cosmetology or Astrology course or to be called a wonderful cosmetologist or astrologer. As we love praise, we graciously accept these erroneously directed compliments.

Professors expect students to come into a course with prior misconceptions. We try to help students overcome these prior misconceptions. Sometimes we fail: Students hang onto their beliefs throughout the course, and students leave with the same misconceptions they brought in. The best professors may do is make students aware of scientific knowledge that counters misconceptions. By ensuring both sides of a misconception are known at course end, success is achieved.

In this post, we help students and the general public better understand the differences between cosmology, cosmetology, cosmologist, and cosmologist.

Cosmos VS Cosmetics

A cosmologist is not the same as a cosmetologist. A cosmologist studies some key aspect of the Universe. A cosmetologist studies beautification of hair, nails, and skin.

On the left in the photographs below is cosmologist Carl Sagan. On the right in the photographs below is cosmetologist Elisabeth Sigmund. Carl Sagan studies an aspect of the Universe. Elisabeth Sigmund beautifies a woman’s skin.

Carl Sagan (left), a Cosmologist, and Elisabeth Sigmund (right), a Cosmetologist; left image courtesy of NASA JPL under Public Domain and right image courtesy of WALA Archive under Public Domain

Let’s first look at cosmologists like Carl Sagan.


Carl Sagan is an example of a cosmologist, who is shown in the above left photograph. Carl Sagan promotes the field of cosmology in his efforts with the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). He associates life on Earth to a search for life elsewhere in the cosmos as part of his career.

A cosmologist studies some aspect of the Universe. Cosmologists study large scale properties of the Universe. They study the origin and fate of the Universe and the evolution of the Universe. The AstroPictionary YouTube video below explains cosmologist.

Video on AstroPictionary Channel of YouTube

Cosmologists are not the same as cosmetologists. Let’s look at cosmetologists.


A Cosmetologist is a person who is involved in the beautification of hair, nails, and skin. Elisabeth Sigmund is an example of a cosmetologist. She is shown in the above right photographs giving a woman a facial. Elisabeth Sigmund is a businesswoman, starting a cosmetics institute in Stockholm, Sweden. As a cosmetologist, Elisabeth Sigmund improves women’s cosmetics at the institute. She develops facial treatments and facial exercises.

Below is a photograph of several cosmetologists: Three are beautifying hair and one is beautifying nails.

Image courtesy of Wikidenizen under CC BY 2.0

Study of Universe and Beautification

Cosmology is more of a study of the Universe. Cosmetology is more of a study of cosmetics. Cosmology is not the same as Cosmetology.

Let’s first look at Cosmology.


Cosmology studies are of the Universe. The AstroPictionary video below explains cosmology.

Video on AstroPictionary Channel of YouTube

Cosmology studies include chronology of our Universe, including history and future. Of the history of the Universe, the Big Bang is of interest, which is taken to be the start of our Universe. Of the future, fates of the Universe are of interest: Four possible fates are Big Freeze, Big Rip, Big Crunch, and Big Bounce. Cosmologists have not yet reached a consensus as to the fate of our Universe. The evolution of our Universe joins the Big Bang from our past to one of the possible fates of our future. This evolution currently suggests that our Universe is accelerating outwards.

The sketch below shows this outward acceleration of the Universe to the right. The Big Bang is depicted on the left. Today is on the far right of the sketch. Major events in evolution of the Universe are listed. Cosmologists study these major events in the evolution of the Universe.

Sketch courtesy of TheAstronomyBum under CC0 1.0

Much of cosmology is a study of density of the Universe. Density is related to shape of the Universe. A too dense Universe, relative to critical density, curves into a ball shape. This density/shape relation is one example.

Like density, geometric shape is a study of Cosmology: Geometric shapes of our Universe include a curve like a ball and a flat like a sheet of paper. Shape may have changed from the time of the Big Bang, and shape may change in the future. Density may have changed from the time of the Big Bang, and density may change in the future.

Now let’s look at cosmetology.


Image courtesy of Omcadam under CC BY-SA 4.0

Cosmetology studies include beautifying hair, nails, and skin, or the outside of the human body. The field includes art in the beautification. The field includes science in cosmetics. Cosmetologists learn to apply cosmetics to face. They learn procedures, therapies, and treatments to hair, nails, and skin.

On the left, a cosmetologist applies a skincare treatment to a woman’s face. Only the hand of the cosmetologist is shown.

Below, a cosmetologist waxes a woman’s eyebrows. The cosmetologist is defining the arches around the eyes. The cosmetologist is right, center in the image.

Image courtesy of Omcadam under CC BY-SA 4.0


Cosmologists may include astronomers, astrophysicists, and theoretical physicists. They study the Universe, including evolution. Cosmetologists study cosmetics and beautification of the exterior of humans.

Cosmologist and cosmetologist have similar sounding names. Cosmologist and cosmetologist have different meanings. Cosmologists are not cosmetologists.

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About the author

Michele M. Montgomery earned a B.S. Degree in Nuclear/Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University, an M.S. Degree in Physics from The University of Alabama with a concentration in Solar Physics, and a Ph.D Degree in Physics from Florida Institute of Technology with a concentration in close binary star systems. She joined the faculty at The University of Central Florida Physics Department in 2004 where she regularly taught astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology. In 2006, she noticed that a large, urban college nearby to UCF did not teach astronomy at one of their largest campuses. She began teaching astronomy at this East Campus of Valencia College, a college that has more than 60,000 students; she still teaches four courses of astronomy each fall, spring, and summer semesters. The astronomy program atValencia College East has grown significantly with several more faculty added who teach astronomy.

By 2019, Dr. Montgomery has taught astronomy to more than 10,000 college and university students, both online and face-to-face. Many of her students have gone on to take her astrobiology, astrophysics, and space physics courses. 

By 2016, Dr. Montgomery had co-authored several astronomy texts and quiz/exam banks. Her work appears in several domestic and international astronomy text books (e.g., Horizons by Cengage, Universe by Cengage, Foundations of Astronomy by Cengage) that are used both at the higher education as well as at the high school levels. Starting in Fall 2019, Dr. Montgomery switched gears to authoring digital textbooks and research full time, while still teaching 12 courses of astronomy and up to eight conceptual, algebra, and/or calculus-based physics courses each year. Her research interests are numerical simulations using Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics of close binary star systems. She also regularly is granted telescope time on the NASA's Kepler space telescope for observing eclipsing binary star systems. She has also observed using Gemini South, Keck, and Kitt Peak ground-based telescopes. Her major teaching areas are Astronomy, Astrobiology, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Space Weather/Space Physics.